Scotland April 2015  Scotland April 2015-2  Scotland April 2015-3

12.30 Saturday 4th April 2015

SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon addresses a ‘Scrap Trident ‘ demo in George Square, Glasgow.

Surrounded by civic architectural splendour, George Sq, Glasgow, is filled with a dedicated, enthusiastic, and huge number of ‘anti-trident missile’ protestors. They promote an imminent ‘blockade’ of the west coast, Faslane, nuclear missile base.

My train arrives at Queen St station opposite the square  just in time for me to see the Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon address the flag waving crowd. I draw a few of them. OAP’s with CND badges pinned to their woolly hats berate the members of the press pen, especially those from the BBC. ‘We’ll come to London and burn down your houses ‘ they shout.

Nicola Sturgeon has tiny hands. She uses pointy gestures, holds up single or double digits whilst delivering her message and  often clenches both fists with elbows held close to her well cut platinum-blue jacket. She is very popular with the nationalist crowd who wave saltires overlaid with the number 45.

I climb up onto the plinth of Prince Albert’s equestrian statue and make some drawings of Mrs Sturgeon surrounded by press photographers.

This is the first occasion during the 2015 election campaign period that  I’ve been able to witness and capture the phenomenon of a candidate creating any kind of ‘political fervour ‘. Members of the crowd who I speak to after the SNP leader has left refer to her as  ‘Oor Nicola ‘ and rail against negative representations of her in the press.


SNP in Glasgow


  Hyde, RUSI, -3  Eclipse, Occupy, Breakfast, -5

8.30 am Friday 3rd April 2015.

Liberal Democrat poster launch at the Hare and Hounds Pub, Hyde, Cheshire.

The Liberal Democrats latest poster campaign is already visible when I arrive at a foggy pub car park up above the small town of Hyde in the freezing rain.

In addition to the media, the Lib Dem candidate and Lib Dem supporters a silent troupe of elderly Labour Party supporters holding red  ‘Vote Labour’ placards pop up from behind a dry stone wall on the other side of the road.

I make some rapid drawings of Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander as they speak, eschewing  umbrellas, to the cameras of BBC North West.

The pub doors open shortly after Clegg and Alexander have motored away and a small  West Highland terrier reluctantly pops out to see to its morning duties.

The landlord kindly provides some very welcome hot coffee.

Liberal Democrat poster launch


Thursday 2nd April Leadership Debate -6 Thursday 2nd April Leadership Debate -11 Thursday 2nd April Leadership Debate -10 Thursday 2nd April Leadership Debate -1


Thursday 2nd April 2015

Leadership Debate Broadcast : ITV, Salford Media Village.

The production team of the much anticipated televised leadership debate are very accommodating when I arrive at the Salford ‘media village ‘.

I’m able to make drawings of all the back stage preparations as I’m given a tour of the studio by Jason the production manager. Without lighting, the set looks like a dull gunmetal grey semi-circular ‘henge’.

Donna, the floor manager tells me that the slick, mirror like debating platform usually serves as the stage for TV singing contest ‘The Voice’.

David Coleman the director points out my sketching post. A centrally placed gold chair at the top of the raked audience seating .  I draw the audience members  prior to their filing into the studio. They look slightly nervous once seated in the dry ice tinged studio. The  names of audience members who have been selected  to ask questions are taped to various seats.

During the debate Victoria Prosser, a lone heckler, is ushered off set by security. My quick sketch shows her between the floor manager and a shaven headed security man as she makes her enforced exit. The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell tells me later that her departure caused macabre amusement in the media centre as it was followed by a loud bang, off screen. The studio doors slamming!

The best moment to draw the 7 leaders is before the televised debate as they  ready themselves on stage. Leaning against her lectern Natalie Bennett of the Green Party performs some yoga like leg stretches. Nick Clegg stands with his back to the crowd, Nigel Farage has more make up applied, Ed Millband shuffles his notes. Stage right, David Cameron suddenly strolls over to stand, hands in pockets, between Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon. He initiates what from a distance looks like amiable pre debate chit chat.

During the debate I try and match some rapid thumbnail sketches with statements made the 7 leaders.

2 hours pass very quickly when you’re drawing.

Leadership Debate Broadcast


George Osborne Yorkshire2        George Osborne       George Osborne Yorkshire 3

George Osborne , business speech , Yorkshire 15.55 1st April 2015

George Osborne is quite difficult to draw from a distance. I’m about 10 yards from his podium in a soft drinks warehouse in Yorkshire.

I sketch George as the focal point of the gathering whilst he delivers his speech on economic growth to a seated audience of journalists, local businessmen and women, party supporters and warehouse workers wearing bulky high vis jackets and hard hats.

The warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with palleted columns of fizzy  pop hence it being referred to  by the jocular local Bramley-ite  workers as ‘ the canyon’ ‘the CAN -yon! Watching  politicians hand gestures has always been a very good shorthand method of visually encapsulating character in a few strokes of the pen.  I remember this quite late into George Osborne’s short speech and manage to make a couple of sketches of him and hastily draw his hands in action.

Conservative party event


UKIP Launch Smith Square 30th March-1    line up UKIP Launch St Margaret's Bay Tues 31st March 2015   UKIP Launch St Margaret's Bay Tues 31st March 2015

UKIP posters unveiled in Smith Sq London, Mon 30th March and the Coastguard Pub , St Catherine’s Bay, Dover.

UKIP’s poster launch events present my first opportunity to sketch a proper ‘media scrum’. This peculiar amorphous organism forms once Nigel Farage, the party leader, has unveiled the UKIP campaign posters and made a short speech.

The tangle of photographers cameramen sound operators, notebook clutching hacks, step ladders and boom microphones pulsates like a kind of outdoor-wear clad jellyfish. Drawing this number of flapping arms, legs and heads in a few seconds is a bit tricky. A photographer in a bobble hat helps to give this fleece lined mass a bit of personality. The long microphone booms arched over Farage with the church of St John in Smith Sq behind him make the scene look like a crazed wedding ceremony.

In the car park of ‘the Coastguard ‘pub, St Margaret’s Dover UKIP candidates and supporters stand in front of the covered advertising van, posters turned crotch-wards like the line up of a political balloon dance troupe.

The best thing to draw about Nigel Farage are his clothes. Waxed jacket, cotton hunting shirt, mustard cords. The rabbits on his tie are too tiny a detail to make apparent in my quick sketches.

I don’t get to draw Nigel with his trademark pint of bitter in the coastguard pub afterwards  as he orders a coffee.

UKIP events


  Lib Dem launch 'diamonds'   Lib Dem Launch ' at the door of the brightly coloured bus'   Lib Dem Launch ' plackard whacking'

29th March 2015  W.Oxford & Abingdon, Albert Park.

The Liberal Democrat Party  election campaign launch takes place at picturesque  Abingdon on Thames  in pouring rain.

Famous for it’s Long Alley Almhouses, Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon established Albert Park in 1860. The entrance to the park is the backdrop to the Lib Dem’s gathering and, along with The Victorian church of St Michael and all the Angels and red brick detached victorian houses, to my drawings of the event.

Local supporters and their candidate Leyla Moran gather under brightly coloured umbrellas and await  the arrival of their  ‘battle bus’ and party leader .

The party have commissioned  2nd year Chelsea School of Art  illustration student , Lisa Chisolm, to design the bus exterior . A very good idea. Ms Chisolm arrives with Nick Clegg on the battle bus. Her designs form several diamonds each depicting a key election issue. The diagonally printed orange Lib Dem placards are good props to draw as supporters have to hold them in a slightly awkward fashion to orientate them correctly.

Mr Clegg addresses his cagouled supporters from the daffodil dotted park entrance. He is dressed  in casual Sunday attire.

Accompanied by the press, supporters and the local candidate, the party leader strides off carrying a placard and a rubber mallet. My lightening sketch of him hammering the placard into the shingle flower bed at number 11 is comprised solely of the mallet, the placard and Nick.

Back at the battle bus I  make  several sketches of the party leader and Leyla Moran as they speak in an unhurried manner to the press. Ms Moran  hopes to unseat the current Conservative MP, Nicola Blackwood, in the key marginal seat of Oxford West and Abingdon. She is wearing a daffodil pin on her lapel, a nice visual link I can use in my sketches to the verge-side daffodils which are now looking slightly trampled.

Liberal Democrat Election Campaign Launch


East London Mosque 28th March-2 East London Mosque 28th March ' guided tour of the religion' East London Mosque 28th March ' bereaved cousins' 

Saturday 28th March 2015

Whilst  the East London Mosque has no particular political affiliation, many political figures have made special visits to Whitechapel High St to address the 7,000 constituency of individual voters who worship at the mosque each Friday. During Ramadan numbers double.

Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have all visited.

George Galloway MP for Bethnal Green and Bow  prior to the 2010 election found much support amongst the East London Sylheti Muslim population. His party office was next to my home. During canvassing I’d often open the curtains to be greeted by him standing smoking a cigar on the upper deck of his open top ‘Respect’ bus.

The East London Mosque open day was a good opportunity for me to speak to representatives of the Mosque about local and national political issues and to comfortably make some drawings of members of the mosque’s community en masse.

East London Mosque Open Day